Beer maker Corona has joined forces with a global charity to draw attention to the 9 million tonnes of plastic making its way into our oceans each year, with businesses being urged to do their part in tackling the problem.
As part of a bid to raise awareness of the marine plastic pollution in Australia, Corona has teamed up with global initiative Parley for the Oceans in a National Geographic documentary to demonstrate the far-reaching effects that plastic pollution is having on our environment, and with it our food chain.
The documentary, officially unveiled at an event in Sydney on Thursday (24 January), shows a team venturing to remote uninhabited islands off the Queensland coast. While the islands are pristine at first glance, the extent of pollution quickly becomes evident, as ocean currents and passing ships dump waste along the shoreline.
On a single 20-metre section of beach on one island, the team picked up 417 pieces of plastic rubbish of various size (pictured), noting that the island’s beaches spanned some 15 kilometres.
That equates to an estimated 1 tonne of plastic waste per kilometre of coastline.
Yet while the visible pollution is one concern, it is the gradual degradation of these items into microparticles — many invisible to the naked eye — that is potentially most damaging.
These particles, the documentary found, are being ingested by fish and other wildlife. In many instances, the animals — including coral — die from ingesting this pollution. Elsewhere, the plastics leach chemicals into marine life, some of which are subsequently consumed by humans.
“For many Australians, marine plastic pollution can be out of sight, out of mind due to the pristine perception of our beaches. As a brand synonymous with the beach and oceans, we’re on a mission to protect these paradises and plastic pollution is the most visible issue affecting paradise today,” Corona Australia spokesman Andy Vance said.
Kael Hudson of National Geographic said that while plastic pollution is a global problem, “it’s equally important for us to educate Australians on the plastic waste issue in our own backyard”.
“This documentary serves as the perfect awareness piece to Australian audiences in shining a light on both the plastic waste affecting Far North Queensland and the amazing work organisations such as Corona and Parley are doing to protect paradise.”
During a panel discussion by members of the team prior to the video’s launch, panellists expressed their cynicism with the steps some businesses have taken in reducing plastic consumption, such as supermarkets banning single-use plastic bags while wrapping fresh produce in plastic packaging.
They said that businesses have a key role to play in reducing and recycling plastics, such as manufacturing shoe soles and other products from used plastics, as well as driving innovation to deliver plastic alternatives, like bamboo toothbrushes.
“We’re hoping through our partnership with Parley and Volunteers for the Ocean, we can make Aussies aware of the very real threat that is risking the health of our own shorelines and marine life, and provide them with a platform to be a catalyst of change to Australia’s marine plastic pollution,” Mr Vance said.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.